Get an Expert Opinion on the Daunting College Application Process

An independent college advisor can help you and your family navigate the application process.

As high school graduation approaches, many families are faced with the daunting task of planning for their child’s next step. If that next step is college, finding, researching, and applying to colleges can be confusing and difficult, but that’s where independent college admissions advisors come in to assist. These seasoned pros aid students and families in the college search and application process.

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So where do you start? Look for an advisor affiliated with a professional association. These include the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) or the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA). This can ensure that the advisor follows the highest ethical standards. Once you’ve found the right match for you, what happens next?

Local college advisor Dana Rolander explains. “I guide [families] in building a balanced list of colleges that fulfill their goals and requirements, including academic, cultural, social, financial, and geographic considerations.” The process also includes developing résumés, selecting courses, and helping students communicate their stories through the application and essay. Rolander works to really understand a family’s needs. “It is the key to getting the most out of the relationship,” she says. “I ask parents to complete a lengthy questionnaire to communicate their priorities for their child’s college experience and provide important insight about their child.”

Greater Cincinnati area college advisor Abigail Whited says that the best part of what she does involves guiding her students to their ultimate potential. “I enjoy helping students reflect on their future goals. Ideally I work with a student for over a year,” she says. “Sometimes I work with families over a period of several years.”

Post-pandemic trends in college admissions have posed various challenges. “It has become harder to gain admission, even to schools that have long been considered ‘safeties’ to many applicants,” says Rolander. “Analyzing and predicting what schools are looking for when creating a first-year class requires continuous learning on my part,” says Whited. Advisors have adjusted to work around these challenges to still guarantee rewarding results for students and their families.

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